EU, IIDEA engage women affairs commissioners on gender equality, rights

In a bid to advance gender equality and rights in Nigeria, the European Union (EU), in partnership with the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IIDEA) and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, has launched a collaborative initiative by organising a two-day conference tailored for state commissioners of women affairs and their permanent secretaries.

Laolu Olawumi, the European Union’s Programme Manager on Democracy, Rule of Law, and Gender, highlighted that the event aims to provide Commissioners of Women’s Affairs and their Permanent Secretaries with the technical support needed to address and tackle issues affecting women, children, and other vulnerable groups nationwide. Set against the backdrop of International Women’s Day 2024, the conference marks a significant step towards achieving this year’s theme, “Inspire Inclusion.”

Olawumi elaborated that the conference’s structure is designed to furnish commissioners with the tools required to effectively confront and resolve rights issues. Moreover, the event serves as a knowledge-sharing forum beyond its primary role of offering technical assistance.

Additionally, Olawumi noted that the EU’s support includes ensuring that planning, budgeting, and implementation processes are inclusive. This strategy promotes the full participation of women, children, and persons with disabilities, integrating inclusivity into governance and societal development.

Under the leadership of the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, the conference fostered a meaningful exchange of insights and strategies among state Women’s Affairs Commissioners, bolstering their ability to advocate for gender equality within their jurisdictions.

The event is part of the recently inaugurated second phase of the European Union’s Support to the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC II) programme implemented by IIDEA and based on the achievements of its preceding phase. At the programme launch, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Samuela Isopi, stated the necessity of a second RoLAC phase to sustain the momentum and continue the EU’s efforts in supporting the Nigerian government’s objective of strengthening the rule of law in Nigeria. “It was clear to the European Union that a second phase of the RoLAC was essential to consolidate the progress and continue the commendable work done on enhancing the rule of law in Nigeria,” Ambassador Samuela Isopi remarked during the launch.

Speaking at the conference, the Imo State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Lady Nkechinyere Ugwu, expressed the significance of the conference, stating, “This conference, courtesy of the EU, is very important to us, as it gives us an opportunity to come together, share experiences, and develop practicable solutions for our work, which focuses on human rights and the protection of vulnerable populations.”

Adding to the discourse, the Commissioner of Women Affairs for Abia State, Mrs Ngozi Blessing Felix, shared her thoughts: “This gathering is a cornerstone for us in Abia State to forge stronger collaborations and innovate on policies that directly impact the lives of women and children. It is an invaluable platform for learning and exchanging ideas that can be transformed into actionable strategies for gender equality and the empowerment of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Through the conference, the EU aims to empower state ministries of women’s affairs to develop and implement comprehensive strategies that support their mission and mandate. Additionally, the initiative seeks to build the capacity of state commissioners and permanent secretaries for women’s affairs, enabling them to act as visible and effective advocates for policy, advocacy, and action on rights-based issues concerning women, children, and persons with disabilities.


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